Rex Nielson, Director of the Humanities Center
Rex P. Nielson is Professor of Spanish and Portuguese and Director of the BYU Humanities Center. His interests include literary and cultural studies, especially in relation to the Portuguese-speaking world. He has taught all levels of Portuguese language as well as a variety of courses on Luso-Afro-Brazilian literature and culture, as well as interdisciplinary courses for Latin American Studies, Africana Studies, Global Women’s Studies, and the BYU Honors Program. His research interests focus on (1) ecocriticism and environmental ethics in Brazil and the global south, (2) race and gender in Luso-Brazilian culture, (3) language and literature pedagogy, and (4) translation studies. He has served in various professional organizations, including as the President of the American Portuguese Studies Association (APSA) (2019–2020). Rex and his wife, Natalie, an adjunct professor in the Department of Comparative Arts and Letters, live in Provo and are the proud parents of five children.
Earl Kjar Brown works as an Associate Professor in the Department of Linguistics. He received a PhD in Hispanic Linguistics at the University of New Mexico in 2008, and his doctoral thesis was published in the LINCOM Studies in Romance Linguistics series in 2009. His research agenda centers on the quantification of language variation, especially in Spanish. In most of this research, he employs the acoustic software Praat and uses the corpus linguistics techniques of text searching, data manipulation, and statistical analysis with the programming languages R, Python and Julia. Some of his research has appeared in the journals Language Variation and Change, International Journal of Bilingualism, Journal of Linguistic Geography, Journal of Research Design and Statistics in Linguistics and Communication Science, and Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory.
Brian Jackson, a native of Kearns, Utah, would love to sit down and play video games, but he never does. An associate professor of English, he sometimes eats the apple’s core. He studies metacognition and writing, and he was once in a punk rock band, for a very short time, called Headless Prom Queen. He loves teaching, even during a pandemic, even though, contra Bob Dylan, he cannot see through their masks, so he can’t tell what they think. His book Teaching Mindful Writers was just published by Utah State University Press, and he’s ashamed he didn’t have the courage to introduce himself to Ben Folds when a girl got him backstage after the show at the Zephyr Club in 1997. He has seven screws in his left elbow, and he teaches first-year writing and an advanced style course for English majors. He does not ever, under any circumstances and for any reason, social media.
Dr. Francesca R. Sborgi Lawson is the Humanities Professor of Ethnomusicology and an Associate Professor in the Department of Comparative Arts and Letters at Brigham Young University. She received a B.M. degree in harp performance from Brigham Young University, an M.A. degree in ethnomusicology from the University of California at Los Angeles, and a Ph.D. degree in ethnomusicology from the University of Washington in Seattle. She conducted research on the inter-relationships of language and music in the narrative arts of Tianjin, China as a Fulbright-Hays and National Academy of Sciences Research Fellow. Her first book, The Narrative Arts of Tianjin: Between Music and Language, was published by Ashgate Press in January 2011, and her second book, The Women of Quyi: Liminal Voices and Androgynous Bodies, was published in 2017 by Routledge.
Brian Price (Ph.D. University of Texas at Austin) is Professor of Spanish American Literature and Culture at Brigham Young University. His areas of scholarly interest include 20th and 21st-century Mexican literary, film, and cultural studies; Latin America’s historical novel; comparative literature; and rock and roll. He is the author of Cult of Defeat in Mexico’s Historical Fiction: Failure, Trauma, and Loss (Palgrave, 2012), editor of Asaltos a la historia: Reimaginando la ficción histórica hispanoamericana (Ediciones Eón, 2014), and coeditor of TransLatin Joyce: Global Transmissions in Ibero-American Literature (Palgrave, 2014) and The Lost Cinema of Mexico: From Lucha Libre to Cine Familiar and Other Churros (U Florida P, 2022). He is currently completing two book projects about the influence of rock music on Mexican literature and film.
Laura Catharine Smith
Laura Catharine Smith (Associate Professor, Germanic Linguistics) joined the faculty in 2004 after earning a Joint PhD in Theoretical and Germanic Linguistics at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. She had previously earned a BA(Hons) and BEd (Intermediate and Secondary teaching of French and History/Social Sciences) at Queen’s University and an MA in Historical Linguistics (Calgary). Thanks to DAAD fellowships, Laura studied twice under Theo Vennemann at the University of Munich.
Laura regularly teaches classes in phonetics, the structure and history of German, and seminars on proficiency, second language acquisition, experimental linguistics, and older Germanic languages. She enjoys helping students develop their academic writing skills. Her research spans L2 pronunciation and perception, increasing L2 proficiency, and theoretical and historical morpho-phonology, especially how syllables, feet and stress placement shape language change and acquisition.
Laura serves as co-editor for the sister series, (Open) Studies in Germanic Linguistics (LSP and Benjamins respectively) and is on the Executive Board for the Society for Germanic Linguistics. She has also served as Utah chapter president for the AATG and is serving on the FAC.
During downtime, Laura hangs out with her horse, Eddie Vann Halenn, and her cat, Molly, whose tail occasionally Zoom bombs meetings.
Paul Westover joined the BYU English Department in 2008. He specializes in British Romantic literature, literary geography, and the history of literary tourism. Paul is the author of Necromanticism: Traveling to Meet the Dead, 1750–1860 (2012) and co-editor, with Ann Wierda Roland, of Transatlantic Literature and Author Love in the Nineteenth Century (2016). He is also one of the lead editors for two large digital projects: William Wordsworth’s Guide to the Lakes: a Romantic Circles Electronic Edition (2012, revised 2020) and Dorothy Wordsworth’s Lake District (forthcoming).